Local girl has gotten the most out of her time in 4-H

Sunday, October 7, 2018

Kelty Raciborski

As national 4-H week kicks off on Oct. 7, organization leaders and standout youths deserve recognition for their accomplishments.

One such youth is Kelty Raciborski, a Glendive local, who has shown time and time again that she embodies the very essence of what 4-H tries to instill in young people; confidence and dedication.

During her time with the organization, about eight years Raciborski recalled, she has travelled all over Montana and even to Congress due to her work with 4-H, but always used these experiences to benefit Dawson County.

Beginning when she was young, Raciborski said it was a suggestion from her father that initially led her to 4-H after her family moved to Glendive.

“My dad was like ‘well, you should do 4-H because that’s what I did and my brothers did’ and so I was like ‘ok, I’ll do 4-H’,” Raciborski said.

First working with lamb before moving onto pigs and then steer, it wasn’t long until Raciborski found out that 4-H gave her the opportunity to take part in events all over, setting her down a new path she says she never would have saw coming.

“...I think it was the third year (with 4-H) I was doing steer, that’s when things kind of skyrocketed a lot, and we found out that you could actually go to a lot of different places and show your cattle and compete,” Raciborski said.

She said she began competing at events all over, all the while growing as a competitor and as a person. Out of all her experiences, Raciborski said she found a sense of confidence that allowed her to become more active within 4H as she shook off her nerves that came with being new.

“When I first started doing 4H, even I remember being really shy and I didn’t really want to do anything and I was always nervous, and then, if you were to ask me anything like a couple years ago I’d probably still be nervous, but now, I’m really excited for it,” Raciborski said.

She has also credited 4-H with helping her learn public speaking skills and, thanks to her time in competitions, how to maintain pose under pressure.

Of all her activities with 4-H, Raciborski said that her participation in the NILE (Northern International Livestock Exposition) Merit Heifer Program was one of her favorite moments.

The NILE Merit Heifer Program is a program for 4-H and FFA members that helps them get started in the beef industry by awarding participants with their own heifer calves based on “merit, future goals and ability to care for the animal” according to the NILE’s website.

As part of the program, participant jointly own a heifer, along with NILE, and are responsible for raising and maintaining it. The participant takes full ownership of the heifer at the end of the program.

“During the program duration, participants are responsible for raising the heifer, arranging for her bred, completing the record keeping procedure and bringing the animal back one year later as a bred replacement heifer for exhibit at the NILE Stock Show,” the NILE’s website said.

Raciborski said she participated in the program during her last year as a junior. When it came time for the NILE Stock Show, she said she was feeling nervous as many of the other contestants had more experience with livestock than she did.

“Everybody I was competing against, except for I think a couple people were also juniors, but everybody I had been competing against had been doing cattle for years, and they were all seniors and they knew how to do everything...” Raciborski said.

Despite her lack of experience and nerves, Raciborski said she managed to get into the final drive for showmanship, even managing to take reserve (second place) overall.

Raciborski has taken the lessons she learned through competition and has put them towards other activities as well. She has helped with many other charities and organizations, attempted to begin a community garden (and would like to attempt again) and has even served as an ambassador for the Dawson County 4H, getting to travel to the Senate and Congress where she learned valuable lessons that she would bring back to the Dawson County 4H to help it grow.

Moving forward, Raciborski said she would like to continuing being involved with 4H, advocating for the organization and possibly serving as an adult leader at some point.

Along the way, she is surprised at what 4H has taught her. Whether it be about ag, about life or even about her self.

“I’ve learned that, you know, I can get through a lot of stuff, because there’s so much you’re doing and so much is thrown at you and you’re trying to handle a lot at once, and I kinda realized that ‘hey, I can do a lot more than I thought I could’ and I’m capable of doing these things,” Raciborski said. “I became more confident and a little more outgoing, so I guess I just kinda “unearthed” myself, in a sense, through 4H.”

Contact Hunter Herbaugh at rrreporter@rangerreview.com .